|Dr MacDonald was a Queensland specialist in agricultural veterinary matters and a member of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science (forerunner of ANZAAS) to which he delivered a paper on Kropotkin's anarchism in 1897. I have no other details. (McDonald moved to New Zealand - brief comment available)|
I promised to write my views upon the social question, and would have done so long ago but for the sudden call this alarming tick plague made upon my time and attention.
There are times when abstract reasoning must give place to action, and all the resources of science and common sense must be taxed to their utmost to save Australia from the ravages of this terrible enemy - the tick.
However, I have not failed to follow the movements of labor, and several points I have noted in reading 'The Worker' which I wish now to speak about. In the first place, I must protest against the use of the word 'anarchy' as frequently made by you and others writing in the paper. You speak of the present social condition as being a condition of anarchy, which is not only an untrue interpretation of present society, but, since there exists a well-known school of philosophy which is founded upon a straightforward and logical use of the word, it is unfair to the exponents of that philosophy to confuse the minds of the workers by continuing to use the world 'anarchy' in an old- fashioned and illogical sense.
How can you, Sir, speak of anarchy which means without government in face of all the Government interference with society, in spite of your continual assertion that we want men in Parliament more to repeal laws than to make them?
Present society is saturated with Government. A man can hardly turn but what Government stares him in the face, either in the shape of courts, goals or custom houses and Government buildings of one sort or another; every other man you meet is a soldier, sailor, policeman, exciseman, inspector or detective, while the other man is a victim of their cursed presumption and bluff. Can you touch a single article in use not taxed in some shape or form by Government? Can you transact business without Government blackmail? But why multiply examples of Government in the present social system, when the present system is based upon the idea of Government. Now, I do not object to you trying to defend the idea of Government or Government institutions, but for goodness sake don't call them anarchy. Call them mis-archy, bad-archy, or any other archy; but AN-archy, never.
I know you are logical enough to admit this reasoning. You know I am sincere and earnest enough not to wilfully add confusions to an already confused social question, and, therefore, I ask you to print this letter.
I would have it clearly understood that anarchists have a new idea on social matters, which briefly put is this - Anarchy Is Order. I ask everyone of your readers to reflect upon this statement, though at first sight the idea appears ridiculous. But reason it out. Twenty years were well spent in finding the truth contained in these words; yet twenty minutes clear thinking should be enough to convince those who earnestly endeavour to know.
1. The laws of the universe are anarchical - gravitation hold the stars and motion changes them. One force tends to rest, the other, of course, to movement, while growth is a result. For instance, one action of matter is acted upon by the force of rest and the force of motion - the result is not rest, but limited motion, while moving in this limited sphere the atoms meet another, and they act upon each other in accordance with a new force - chemical combination. If the atoms have affinity for each other they combine to make a larger unit of matter, which again acts upon other units automatically, according to chemical and physical laws; and so on larger and larger combinations grow in time. Thus the stars are built up, so the flowers grow, and the animals too, by biological laws, which are eternal and unalterable; not like the laws of man, which are powerless in themselves, and always being changed to suit the convenience of those who made them. The laws of nature are just in so far as they act uniformly on all units by definite and determinable action. Whenever human power opposes itself to natural law there is disaster to humanity and humiliation to men, destruction and disorder all round; but when on the other hand men work with nature, there is harmony, effect, a general progress in natural growth.
Nature's laws are above all bibles. Men must obey them or perish. If the law of man and law of nature direct an individual differently, the law of man must go. Those who make laws not in accordance with natural dictation are murderers like those who obey them. Man and animals learn by long experience those things harmful to them by continual use, and in a like manner the things which do them good. Animals have discovered that to associate with each other on friendly terms, working for the common good, is the most pleasant and useful system of society; men are finding that a system of slave labour is, destructive to the whole of their society.
Men found by experience that authority in questions of religion produced untold crimes and cruelties - in fact, set men so at variance with their utmost feelings that a revolution was the result, and the authority of the Church to dictate and enforce a moral code was broken for ever. So it will be with authority in social matters. Men will revolt againt any dictate as to their social action; they will revolt bitterly one day when they learn the truth and break the authority of State as they have that of Church.
I have no personal objection to others following their own convictions upon religious matters, but I do oppose them in forcing their religion upon me. Nor do I object to men having governments of their own, such as exist in unions and secret societies, where men voluntarily submit themselves to authority; but I do strenuously object to be included and forced to obey laws I do not endorse.
What right has Government to tax any individual who objects to law and authority? It is a lie to say taxation is necessary for the benefit of all. If men think taxation a necessity they will voluntarily subscribe the funds, as they do in unionism and in religion.
Men will and must be free individually. Freedom is one of the constituent principles of a man, and he who discovers the spirit of freedom in himself is first to recognise it in others.
For ethical reasons a man must be free, and for economical purposes he must combine with his fellows; by natural impulse from within men are moved to freedom and to free association. In their desire for association they overstep the mark and try to force men. Here they infringe a natural law. When the workers once learn that Governments are a fraud they will laugh and ridicule them off the face of the earth.
When once the workers are educated up to the idea of no government a thousand new aspects of the social question present themselves. The plan of campaign for emancipation of the workers from their wage-slavery becomes simple. The tendency towards new or political unionism, will be counteracted and the sooner the better. The great idea of unity in the labor cause will take shape in practically each union helping the most oppressed and each worker giving his mite to every strike.
To carry every strike through triumphantly and to make a science of strikes should be every worker's ideal. Not to continually protest in the most unmistakeable and practical fashion against this putrid system of social parasitism is to accept the position of the slave.
Sir, tell the workers, and tell them plainly, to obtain Socialism in our time we will have to fight; and I mean real fight. This political sparring is enervating in the extreme - both the unions and the men suffer.
See the success of your Surplus Labor League! It is a grand movement capable of infinite development.